Best Belt Drive Turntables


Direct drive or belt drive, everyone has their favorite type of turntable, but often the question is which is better: Direct Drive or Belt Drive? A belt-drive or direct-drive turntable is essential if you’re looking to purchase one for your personal collection or for personal use. 

In a belt-drive turntable, the platter is driven by a motor, while in a direct drive turntable, the motor rotates the record itself. Since the belt does not hit the spinning disk as hard as it does in a direct-drive turntable, belt-drive turntables are typically quieter than direct-drive turntables, while direct-drive turntables are also faster. An often-cited benefit of belt-drive turntables is their reliability and longer life expectancy.

Buying Belt Drive Record Player?

Belt drive record players aren’t for everyone, so there are a few things you should consider when buying one. First, check turntable build quality since you don’t want it to fall apart after a couple of months, nor do you want it to make strange noises. Additionally, you’ll want to consider the belt drive type the player uses, which comes in several varieties.

How we tested belt drive record players

Have you ever wanted to listen to vinyl records but didn’t want to carry a heavy turntable around? The belt drive record players will appeal to you since they are lighter and smaller than traditional turntables, and they turn the vinyl with gears rather than a belt. To find which belt drive record player is best for you, the Wooster Audio team tested two different models.

Testing Methodology

To test belt drive record players, the following procedure was followed:

We set up my listening environment in my living room and placed the test player near an easy-access window to allow for natural light and airflow. The needle was placed on the record player, the play button was pressed, and we enjoyed listening to the music.

The playback quality of vinyl records from various decades was tested on each player by playing a number of my favorite vinyl albums. Our assessment was based on volume levels, clarity of sound, and overall satisfaction with the players' performance.

Generally, belt drive record players outperform needle-and-groove record players in terms of audio reproduction. They provide an overall more enjoyable listening experience with superior sound clarity and enjoyment of music playback than traditional needle-and-groove record players.

Turntables with belt drives are generally rated higher in overall quality than those with motors because belt drives tend to have a more stable sound over time and less distortion. Generally, belt drive units are constructed from better materials such as metals and high-quality plastics when it comes to materials. It is clear that most users prefer belt drive units because they feel like they get a better audio experience with them.

Read: Best budget speakers for turntable

Results

Those who are looking for belt drive record players that are stylish as well as functional need to check out the Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB, Audio-Technica AT-LP7, Pro-Ject DC Espri, and Pioneer PLX-1000 on our list. These record players are both reliable and user-friendly so that you can enjoy your vinyl collection easily. As a bonus, its belt drive system ensures high-quality audio playback no matter what happens.

Some considerations when choosing a belt drive turntable?

Team Wooster Audio provides some examples of its favorite belt drive turntables. When choosing a belt drive turntable, some things mentioned below must be considered.

Type of platter: 

In general, belt drive turntables use vinyl or rubberized platters. Choose a turntable with a rubberized or vinyl platter to ensure consistent sound quality and operability.

Belt speed: 

It would help if you chose the appropriate belt speed depending on the music you plan to listen to. Sound is produced more accurately when the belt speed is slower, while high-energy sound is produced when the belt speed is higher.

Motor: 

For louder music genres, higher-powered motors are better, while lower-powered motors are better for quieter music genres. Check the motor specs to see how powerful the turntable is.

Type of tonearm:

Tonearms are one of the first things to consider when choosing a turntable. In direct drive tonearms, the platter is moved by an internal motor, while in belt drive and rocker arm tonearms, the platter is moved by belts and springs.

Turntable Sound Quality:

Besides the turntable’s quality, another important consideration is its sound. Compared to direct drive turntables, belt drive turntables use less motor power and have fewer moving parts, resulting in better sound quality and a long lifespan due to their low wear and tear factor. Belt drive turntables offer superior sound quality and a longer life expectancy than direct drive turntables.

Belt Drive Turntable Built-in phono preamp

A belt drive turntable is usually less expensive than a traditional turntable, and it comes with a high-quality preamp, so you won’t have to buy another one later. Consider a belt drive turntable if upgrading your turntable and adding a phono preamp. Additionally, belt drives make turntables more reliable than those without belt drives.

Automatic or manual record player

You can choose between a belt-driven turntable that is automatic or manual based on your needs. The difference between an automatic and a manual turntable is that the automatic requires hand cranking, so you don’t have to do any work. Depending on your needs and preferences, you may prefer one over the other. For hassle-free listening to records, opt for an automatic turntable. 

Nonetheless, if you’re someone who enjoys taking their time with each record, a manual turntable may be better for you. Moreover, belt drive turntables can be converted from automatic to manual mode so that you can choose how you want to listen to your records.

3.5 mm, USB output, Bluetooth

A belt drive turntable can be connected to your computer via USB output or Bluetooth. It also comes with 3.5 mm audio input, allowing you to easily connect it to your existing stereo system.

Materials and components of turntables

Direct drive:

A direct drive belt applies power to the turntable via a single pulley and is the simplest and most effective type of belt drive turntable.  

Planetary gear:

Several smaller pulleys power the turntable with planetary gear belts, reducing noise and improving speed stability.

Spindle drive:

In addition to improving tracking accuracy, this design reduces noise levels by using two pulleys to drive the turntable. Typically, belt drive turntables require no additional components or materials, and only a 3/8" hole in the wall is needed to mount them.

Choose the right Turntable Type:

The main difference between belt-drive and direct-drive turntables is their drive mechanism.

  • Direct-drive turntables drive the platter by motor and gearbox, in contrast to belt-drive turntables that use rubber or belts.
  • Turntables with direct drives tend to be more expensive, but they are faster and more precise than those with belt drives. 
  • The cost of belt-drive turntables is usually lower, but they may not be as fast or precise as direct-drive models.
  • A belt-drive turntable is usually sufficient for home use if you only plan to use it occasionally. You may want to consider a direct-drive model if you will be using it outside and you need additional protection.

Direct Drive Record Players?

With direct-drive turntables, the platters are driven by a motor, making them more responsive and prone to problems. Investing in a best belt drive turntable can enhance your vinyl listening experience.

Direct-Drive Turntables Benefits:

  • A belt-drive model may be more responsive and produce better sound.
  • High torque and consistency
  • Makes scratching possible
  • Direct drive is the most pop
  • Popular in photographs

Direct Drive Turntable Cons: 

  • Models with belt drives are more costly and may have greater reliability issues.
  • Frequently suffer from motor vibration noises.

Belt Drive Record Players?

As opposed to turntables, belt drive record players rotate the vinyl disk using a belt drive. Typically, this type of record player is quieter and less likely to skip than other types of vinyl record players. Additionally, these record players tend to be more affordable than those made from other types of vinyl.

Belt Drive Record Player Benefits

Belt drive record players have many advantages, including:

  • Since the belt drives system transfers the audio signal from the records to the speakers with a pulley and motor, the sound quality is usually better than a turntable with a moving arm. A turntable uses a rotating platter that sounds like a phonograph cartridge.
  • Belt drive record players are generally more durable due to their less likelihood of failing motor and pulley systems.
  • Belt-driven record players tend to be smaller and easier to store.
  • Reliable
  • Long life
  • Easy to set up and use.
  • Produce better sound quality.
  • Reduces vibration noise.
  • The elastomeric belt absorbs vibrations.

Belt Drive Turntables Cons:

  • Turntables with belt-drive mechanisms can cost more and have a slower response time than models with direct-drive mechanisms.
  • They “ramp” to tempo;
  • Play the record at 33 1/3 revolutions per minute, not instantly
  • When the drive belt wears out or loses elasticity, it can slip.
  • Belt-drive turntables have much lower torque.
  • It is also possible for the belt to slip off the motor and/or spindle of the platter.
  • Direct-drive turntables are more suitable for DJs who scratch or mix than belt-drive ones.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you scratch on a belt-drive turntable?

Despite the fact that it cannot be scratched, it can be damaged. The coating on the platter will be damaged if you scratch the surface of the turntable, which will make it difficult to play your music and might even result in scratching. Whether a belt-drive turntable will hold up better if you scratch a hard surface such as a record or a soft surface such as a CD or vinyl LP depends on the type of belt-drive turntable and the surface you’re scratching.

How to adjust Belt Drive Turntable Speed?

  • In some belt drive record players, you can adjust the speed by pressing a button on the front and turning a screw near the tonearm. 
  • You may take your belt drive record player to a repair shop if it does not have this feature.
  • Adjust the speed slowly to get used to the new setting on your belt drive record player. 
  • After familiarizing yourself with the spinning speed, you can accelerate it. Keeping your speed under control can prevent your records from skipping.

Who Should Get A Belt Drive Turntable?

You’ll need less maintenance with a belt drive turntable; it’s easier to move around, so it’s a great choice for home use, it’s more reliable than a direct drive turntable, and it is also quieter than a direct drive turntable, so it’s an advantage if you are looking for an environment where you can listen to music quietly.

William
Hi! I'm William and I've done graduation in Information Technology, and I love music. I buy lots of audio equipment, the latest audio interfaces, and hardware and use them to get proper knowledge, and after excellent judgment, I write blogs on them.
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